Volume 30: Raine Xavier Thornblade III - Fin
Volume 30: Raine Xavier Thornblade III - Fin
So it was that Raine spent the last few days of his time at his old home in a panic. He beseeched his mother to tell him where the candle was that was in his window but she found it hard to grasp his intensity.
“My love I’m sure it is packed away safely. Had I known it was so important to you I would have set it aside. But look! I’ve had the servants fetch you some new candles and a new beautiful holder to sconce them in! Isn’t it lovely?” As she herself pursued the packers continuously around their estate in her own form of motherly panic.
Raine lit these candles every night but Celestial never appeared. Finally on the last night he was so frantic he snuck out well after midnight and began yelling out for her at the top of his lungs. When the lights started appearing in the windows in various houses on the street in reply to his screams he retreated to the shadows and snuck back home defeated.
And in the morning they left. He and his mother boarded a large carriage outside and they began to pull away. Raine grasped the medallion he had done all this for tightly in his hand. He turned around and saw his home retreating into the distance and it seemed like his universe was crumbling around him. His mother sensed his disparity and held him close.
“There there my son.” She said stroking his head. “This will be a great new beginning! You will make so many new friends in our new city!”
Raine wondered if he would ever meet a friend like Celestial again. He buried his face into his mother’s arm for a few short moments and cried silently but then as if Celestial was right there with him he heard her speaking in his mind.
“No self-pity. No tears.” And with that Raine set his jaw, wiped his face and set his mind to the future.
It took several days to arrive at their new home and when they arrived both Raine and his mother were taken aback by what they saw. Gone were the paved roads and fantastic buildings of their former city. They arrived to a town built on mud and dirt. The buildings looked hastily made and on the verge of collapse. The city square had 2 buildings literally on fire when they arrived, being put out by a bucket brigade of dirty people in dirty clothes, many of which looked completely foreign to them.
Not far from the town center, they finally arrived at what would be their new home. It looked to be one of the few stone buildings in the city and looked to be a decent size, but even their own “yard” was mostly dirt, rocks, and mud. When they arrived however Raine’s father came out to meet them smiling from ear to ear. He embraced Raine in an uncommon hug and swung him around and then did the same for his wife planting a big kiss on her lips. “Isn’t it wonderful?!” He beamed.
Raine’s mom simply stared her mouth slightly agape for several long moments in silence. Raine’s father continued smiling and finally said, “Let me show you the grounds!”
The “tour” showed a decent home. Raine had his own large room. The inside was surprisingly clean and homey. Outside they had their own private well, and a large pen filled with pigs. “They are a sign of wealth here!” Raine’s father said delighted, reaching in to scratch a sow behind her ear, to which he received a satisfied grunt. Rained named the sow Jenny to which his father said, “Be careful about naming what you eat son.” This filled Raine with a touch of sadness.
And so it was they began a new life. Despite its appearance they seemed to lack for nothing in this new town. Raines father governed from another stone building in the town center (only two buildings from where they had seen the fire on their way in) Raine took to traveling there with his father learning what he could. What he learned gave him mixed emotions. Reading between the lines of all the paperwork his father had access too he found that his father’s promotion seemed to actually be more of a test. It’s true his father had been a very successful trader for the senate and this was considered a reward for that service, but this town was a relatively new acquisition to the empire and had apparently gone thru two governors before they arrived. The first dying under “mysterious circumstances” and the second apparently suffering from “bouts of madness” that caused him to be relieved from the post. Furthermore they were at the very edge of the empire now and as such not far from war. A war Raine began to see firsthand. The military was a constant presence in the city and the generals and commanders were oft to dine with them at their home.
The city possessed a large medical facility which was set into a large patchwork building of stone, wood, and concrete. It looked to have had several “additions” added on hastily to take care of the massive casualties coming in from various battles. Raine felt the pallor of death covering the building when he was near it and tended to avoid it.
Not long after they had settled in Raine found the candle Celestial had given him. He set it in his window unlit for several days debating what to do. In the end he decided not to light it. Scared he would waste this one beacon to summon Celestial to him. He would wait. He would start asking his parents to visit their old home so he could “visit friends” and then bring the candle with him so he could light it there.
But there was much to do in this new town and the few times he asked he was met with indifference from his mother, and from his father annoyance.
“This is our home now, quit acting like a child and accept what is.” His father would say. On top of this Raine also began to be caught up in his own studies. His mother had acquired several new tutors for him and Raine found himself forced to study much more than he ever had before. Raine took to wearing the medallion wherever he went.
Time passed. Days to weeks. Weeks to years. When Raine wasn’t studying he was at his father’s office learning the ways of government. He read reports about the empire and learned the empire was still expanding. Expanding in all but one direction, the direction of this outlying town. For one reason or another the people in the neighboring country were proving to be incredibly tenacious and brutal fighters. With successful campaigns being waged on all other fronts, his father’s cries for military aid went mostly unheard. He received responses “congratulating him” on holding the line, and halting the advance of the enemy. Both of which were only tenuously true.
By time Raine was 13 he had almost forgotten about Celestial. He would often look at the medallion he wore and wonder if it had all been a dream. It all seemed so incredible. By this time Raine had become one of his father’s most trusted advisors. He basically worked full time in his father’s office and had gathered the respect not only of the people that worked alongside him but eventually of the generals and commanders on the front lines. Raine began to cleverly acquire new weapons and provisions for the military here and more than once had provided strategies to them that led to actual advancements in the battle against the enemy.
This led to a change in the ongoing battle, but not a favorable one. The enemy, being pushed back became more tenacious, more brutal, and eventually much more deadly. They began sneaking into the city proper, starting fires and eventually explosions. Terror began to grip their city. Innocents were being killed nearly weekly. The military responded with its own push back but it soon became evident the native towns people were helping these undercover enemies and chaos began to descend upon the city. The military began rounding up foreigners and administering harsh and cruel punishments to them if there was even a suspicion that they had worked with enemy forces. Raine saw his father begin to be worn thin. He lost most of his hair over the next year and began drinking. Raine’s mother settled into a melancholy and would sometimes stand at the edge of their property and stare at the fires and smoke as the city was being attacked. Raine hated to see his mother this way. As such he came to her one evening not far from his 14th birthday and said, “Mother. Why don’t we go away for my birthday? Let’s go back to our city and stay there a week or more and relax.”
Raine’s mother looked at him long and finally smiled with teary eyes and said, “I think that is a great idea my love. I’ll arrange it.” She pushed his hair back and kissed his forehead and slowly walked back into their home. Raine stood outside a bit longer and watched the city burn...
Over the next month or so his mother did make arrangements for their trip and Raine saw joy in her eyes for the first time in a long time. This was a magical time with his mother as they laughed and planned joyously all the things they would do when they returned to the city for their holiday. But even as they reveled in their own personal pocket of joy, the very world around them was being torn asunder.
His father’s presence was nonexistent. When he wasn’t in his office he was on the battlefield advising the military. Desperation had seemed to consume him. He was known to carry two full wineskins filled with strong wine that he sipped from constantly. On the rare occasions he was home he would be passed out on his bed for short hours, and then he would leave again usually not saying a word to anyone. On top of this the battle line was coming ever closer to the city proper. The large farms on the edge of their claimed territory were being burned nightly. The enemy seemed to move without sound and disappear into the night when confronted. The wounded were so many that often the “less injured” were simply left in the streets outside of the overwhelmed hospital. Their moans of pain could be heard across the city.
Despite this Raine found himself giddy at the prospect of returning to the city of his childhood. He had packed and repacked several time assuring the candle was with him. He found himself rubbing the medallion and making silent meditations that he would see Celestial upon his return.
A few days before his 14th birthday Raine’s mother came to him and reminded him they would leave in the morning for their vacation. He smiled at her and showed her his packed bag and they embraced. She pushed back his hair and kissed his forehead and said, “Good boy. Sleep well. I love you.”
That would be the last time he heard his mother’s voice.
Raine had restless sleep. He dreamed Celestial was looking for him, then running to him. She seemed frantic. Raine began to sweat feverishly as he called out to her but she could not quite seem to find him. Finally the heat felt unbearable and Celestial looked right at him in the dream and screamed, “Wake up!”
Raine awoke with a start and to a wave of unbelievable heat falling upon him. One of his bedroom walls fell mere inches away from him, consumed by fire. All around him his home blazed. Raine quickly took stock of his situation and began to cough. He called out for his mother but could hear nothing but the roaring fire and what sounded like battle right outside his window. Raine rushed to it to see indeed there were people fighting in the streets. They cast long stark and jagged shadows as they wrestled and died in the dirt. Raine knew he must get out of here and hide.
He turned to grab his bag but saw it already engulfed in flames. He looked on in horror as the candle he had protected so long melted in a purple flame. A crash was heard from somewhere else in the house and Raine snapped back to himself. He grasped the medallion he still wore around his neck and threw his window open and jumped out into the yard. He ran around to his mother’s window but the fire was so intense there he could not even get close. He prayed she had escaped already. Raine turned and saw only a stone’s throw from him one of his father’s generals struck down by a dark figure. Blood sprayed, lit from the fires around them, and then the body crumpled into the mud. The figure turned and looked directly at Raine. Raine turned and ran.
Shirtless and shoeless Raine didn’t dare look back to see if he was being pursued. A sharp rock pierced his foot but he didn’t lose his stride at all. He reached the tree line and finally allowed himself to stop a moment and look back. He could see no one following him. All he could see was a city in flames. He leaned against a tree breathing hard, his breath making a cool mist in the night air. He looked at his throbbing foot. A small wound but bloody. There was nothing he could do about it now.
“Raine?” A voice said from the trees. It made Raine jump as he turned to face it. He saw his father. At first he could barely make out his features but as he came closer the moonlight and the light from the burning city showed him to be bloody and covered in wounds. He was holding his side and an arrow was piercing his shoulder. Raine stared at him in horror.
Raine’s father staggered up to him smiling. He looked so different from the father he had always known. He barely recognized him. “I’m sorry son.” He said. He cupped Raine’s face with a bloody hand. Raine could feel the warmth of it on his cheek and could smell the coppery iron smell of it. “Son I love you. Son...run!” And with that he first fell to one knee grasping at his son’s night pants and then fell to the ground face first leaving a long streak of blood on the linen.
Raine was shocked and unable to move. He had no idea how long he stood there. He never turned back to look at the city but could easily feel the heat from it rolling over him in queasy currents that mixed with the cold night air, moving like tendrils through the dark. But then it was too late. From the flickering flames behind him he saw coming through the woods 3 armed men. They strode toward him silently. They didn’t even acknowledge him but as they passed by one sliced open his belly and kept moving never breaking his stride. Raine fell to his knees and looked down to see he was holding his intestines in his hands. He fell backwards and looked back towards the fiery buildings. Upside down he saw these men continuing to stride into the city. Darkness was building at the edge of his vision and he found he could hardly breathe.
But just then a curious thing happened. A blur of motion and where the 3 men once stood was a cloud of blood and sinew and they were no more. In their place stood a woman who quickly made her way toward him. The smell of tropical fruit and cinnamon mixed with the smell of death as she arrived cradling him in her arms.
“Celestial?” Raine gurgled. He could barely keep his eyes open. He thought he heard his mother calling for him in the distance and looked away from Celestial into the dark.
“Shhhhh my boy. Save your strength. Do not listen to the calls of the dead. Not tonight.” She produced a large knife and slit her wrist.
“I guess I lost the game…” Raine laughed choking.
“No my son you have won. And here is your prize.” She put her wrist to his mouth and he could feel the white hot blood trickle down his throat, coating his mouth.
At first he could barely swallow but eventually he found his self ravenously sucking down all that she was offering. In a mixture of pleasure and pain he could feel his guts being stitched up and soon his strength began to return. But he was still very weak. Celestial picked him up and began to run into the woods. She ran like a deer jumping over fallen trees and stumps. Raine looked out in his dreamy state and saw the forest flying by.
“Am I going to die?” He asked. She never broke her stride but looked down at him and kissed his forehead.
“No my son. I fear though that however violently, you have begun to enter your destiny this evening. No you will not die. I imagine for quite some time...” She leapt over a large stream and stopped. She gently lowered him down by a tree and pushed the hair out of his face. “It is your destiny to be the Qazferatu. The last...” she paused and looked at him. “The last of our kind.”
“Our kind?” Raine said weakly.
She picked him up and carried him to a large hole in the earth. She laid him in this deep grave and kneeled next to him. “I am so sorry this had to happen this way Raine. But know that despite everything I am here now and I will not leave you. You have so much to learn and I will teach you.” She began to pull the earth over him starting with his legs. “I would have liked to wait quite a few more years before doing this but we are out of time.” She moved with a graceful speed and soon he was covered to his neck in dirt. He found he didn’t mind. It all seemed like a dream. He was in bed and she was tucking him in. The earth felt warm and comforting around him like an embrace.
“By tomorrow’s moon you will arise new my child. A full moon as well. A good omen and fitting for you.” By now he had been buried all the way to his face. His eyelids were heavy. He saw the moon reflecting in her eyes. “Sleep now son. Tomorrow a new life begins for you.”
Raine fell asleep or into a trance or something like it. He could not tell. He felt the dirt cover his face and he slept. Indeed his life would truly begin by tomorrow’s full moon...
Thus we end Raine’s origin story. Of course Raine’s story continues but in the interest of progressing the story as a whole further we will leave him here for now. Raine is a dynamic character with other incredible and fantastic stories I hope to tell one day. How did he live after that night? How did he begin exploring the multiverse? How did he acquire his ship ‘Diamond’? All of these are great stories. These and many more.
For now however we will return to Traxt magic. Raine will be waiting for us when we are ready to return to him...
In the illustration provided we see one of my very early drawings of Raine. This was probably around 7th grade lol. Here we see him using one of the medallions powers. Raine usually activates this power by screaming, “Maniac Pummel!” creating a searing globe of light energy around him.
Are you all caught up on the AllD20 podcast? Check out Episode 33: Curiosity Cursed the Rabbit!
Now things are getting interesting. What happened to Tippletoe? Where is the party heading first? What will happen when Jean tries to play miner? Find out now!
TheTabletopGameShop is excited to announce our partnership with the AllD20 Podcast! This beautiful masterclass of audio production is the hottest new Dungeons & Dragons podcast available and TheTabletopGameShop has an exclusive partnership to supply their game dice. Follow the cute gnomes, fierce foxy paladins, bardic badass widows, happy drunken dwarves and cunning clever halflings on their adventures in a world of myth, magic and wonder!
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Also in Traskoria
So I really was trying to reserve the art for the new races I’m presenting but I came across some older sketches and decided I’d share a bit with you early!
Please enjoy these illustrations, the intention is to help you mentally build the world of Traskoria within your own imagination to supplement the story. These characters or beings will all be introduced or have been, so stay tuned for more to com